Bicycle Accident Lawyer, Charlie Thomas, explains the bicycle laws of Mississippi
As both a bicycle accident attorney and advocate for safer riding, I prepared this article to serve as an overview of the laws that apply to riders while bicycling in Mississippi.
Fault of the Motorist or Bicyclist in a Crash that Affects Recovery
In any accident, the question of fault or liability asks who was responsible for causing the accident and to what degree. Different states treat this issue of fault differently depending on the amount of fault of the injured person. Mississippi follows a pure comparative fault rule, which means that an injured party may recover even if he or she is 99 percent at fault. Nevertheless, their recovery would be reduced by the injured party’s degree of fault. Source: M.C.A. §11-7-15.
Safe Passing Laws
Mississippi law requires that while passing a bicyclist on a roadway, a motorist shall leave a safe distance of at least 3 feet between the vehicle and the bicyclist until safely past the bicycle. In addition, a motor vehicle operator may pass a bicycle traveling in the same direction in a non-passing zone with the duty to execute the pass only when it is safe to do so. Source: Miss. Code Ann. §63-3-1309.
Mississippi has no helmet law. It is legal for all persons of any age to operate a bicycle without wearing a helmet unless otherwise provided by a municipal regulation.
Mississippi does not have a statute that specifically authorizes or prohibits bicycle riding on a sidewalk.
Bicycling Under the Influence
Mississippi’s law that prohibits driving while under the influence applies to all vehicles, including bicyclists. Therefore, bicycles should not be operated while intoxicated and operating a bicycle while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances may result in severe punishments. Source: Miss. Code Ann. §63-11-30.
Mississippi requires that a person may not open a vehicle’s door unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic. In addition, no person shall leave a door open on a side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers. Source: Miss. Code Ann. §63-3-911.
Vulnerable Road User Laws
Mississippi does not define who is a “vulnerable road user,” but has several statutes aimed at protecting bicyclists specifically. First, it is unlawful to harass, taunt or maliciously throw an object at or in the direction of any person riding a bicycle. Second, the operator of a vehicle that passes a bicyclist proceeding in the same direction may not make a right turn at any intersection or into any highway or driveway unless the turn can be made with reasonable safety. Source: Miss. Code Ann. §§63-3-1313; 63-3-1309(3).
“Idaho Stop” and Vehicle Detection Errors
Mississippi does not provide any modifications to the requirement to come to a complete stop when directed to stop by traffic control devices and does not authorize bicyclists to disobey traffic lights that fail to detect bicyclists.
Treatment as a Vehicle
Mississippi law considers bicycles to be vehicles. A person riding a bicycle has all of the rights and duties of the driver of a vehicle, except as otherwise provided in Article 27 of the Traffic Regulations and Rules of the Road in the Mississippi Code. Source: Miss. Code Ann. §§63-3-103; 63-3-1303.
Mandatory Use of Separated Facilities
Mississippi does not require that bicyclists use any lane or path other than a normal vehicular traffic lane.
Distracted Driving Laws
Mississippi currently has the following laws aimed at distracted driving, subject to limited exceptions: (1) a person who is authorized to drive under an intermediate license, a temporary learning permit or a temporary driving permit shall not operate a motor vehicle on a highway while using a wireless communication device to send or receive a written message while the motor vehicle is in motion; (2) a person shall not use a wireless communication device while operating a passenger bus with a minor passenger on the bus; and (3) no county, municipality or other political subdivision shall enact any ordinance restricting the use of cellular phones in any motor vehicle until such time as the state may authorize a county, municipality or other political subdivision to enact such an ordinance. Source: Miss. Code Ann. §§ 63-1-73; 63-3-212.
Where to Ride
Mississippi generally requires that every bicyclist operating a bicycle, at a speed less than the speed of traffic ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway. There are a few exceptions to this general rule, as: (1) when it is unsafe to do so; (2) when overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction;(3) when preparing for or making a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway; (4) when proceeding straight in a place where right turns are permitted; and (5) when necessary to avoid hazardous conditions, including those caused by a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side in the lane. Source: Miss. Code Ann. §63-3-1307.
If you have any questions about these laws or how they may apply, please feel free to contact us via email ([email protected]) or phone (1-844-531-7530) to discuss this topic further.